19th April, 2022
For many businesses, a hybrid work environment has become the norm as employees value the flexibility on offer. But it’s a long way from being a perfect solution.
The pandemic changed work forever. ‘Work’ is no longer a place we go. It’s a thing we do.
A report by Economist Impact about hybrid work and its impact on work-life balance found that hybrid work has become a bargaining chip in the workplace. Employees want it, and they’re prepared to leave to get it.
Used to describe the new paradigm for workers gaining flexibility over their hours and the ability to work remotely, the hybrid model is a popular way for companies to foster a healthy work-life balance.
Meanwhile, space-as-a-service offering WeWork is witnessing demand from businesses who are turning towards flexible workspaces to provide hybrid spaces for employees.
“Overall, we’ve seen that members are returning in a hybrid manner, dedicating a few days in the office and a few at home, and looking to the office to be where they connect and re-engage in person with their colleagues,” said General Manager for WeWork Australia and Southeast Asia, Balder Tol.
A number of large businesses have made the switch across to hybrid working models.
Telstra moved 25,000 people to working from home over the course of a weekend, and says it hasn’t looked back.
“There’s no talk of returning to normal at Telstra. We don’t waste time debating who should be in the office and when. We are all-in hybrid. For us, work is a thing you do, not a place you go,” Executive for Transformation, Communications and People, Alex Badenoch told the Trans-Tasman Business Circle recently.
“Flexible working and hybrid working is valuable to your employees and your organisation. Embrace it. It’s here to stay,” said Badenoch.
Deloitte Australia has also embraced flexible work, empowering employees to make choices and where they work and how they connect with clients and each other.
“There is no one size fits all working week anymore and no requirement to be ‘in the office’ for any set amount of time. While some clients need face-to-face connection, others have pivoted strongly to more virtual ways of working,” said Deloitte CEO, Adam Powick.
Many businesses are navigating this new work environment, which has seen offices replaced with video conferencing, virtual networks and online communication tools, Swinburne research reveals.
But an expectation gap is emerging between businesses and employees, which businesses need to understand to adapt and thrive successfully, the research reveals.
It found that flexible work has become the most preferred arrangement for workers, who want collaboration, connection and learning when returning to the office.
Worker retention rates could be at risk if businesses resist, with 43 percent of workers saying a lack of flexible arrangements could be a deal-breaker for them.
A second report also highlights major changes to the ways we work, want to work and our receptiveness to digital surveillance and remote working mandates.
Conducted by management consultancy Bendelta, the study explored the human, physical and digital experience at work, gathering more than 258,000 data points to explore changes in employee behaviours and experiences. It was conducted between August 2021 and January 2022.
The majority of employees don’t believe that the number of days they can work remotely should be mandated (70 percent). It found that employees are largely happy to continue working remotely (81 percent) and want to work no more than two days in the office each week (69 percent).
It also found that employees are working longer hours (60 percent working more than 40 hours a week). And instead of working nine to five, they would prefer flexible hours that change regularly in order to accommodate other commitments.
Meanwhile, researchers have been working to determine whether not coming into the office could impact your ability to secure a promotion or pay rise at work.
A Slack Future Forum found that most employees are opting for a hybrid way of working, with 58 percent of knowledge workers now in hybrid working arrangements (up from 46 percent in May 2021),
But while flexibility is the norm, opting to work remotely for the majority of the week could be impacting your career.
The research highlights the fact that people working from home spending the least amount of time in the office could have their access to professional opportunities limited.
The Slack research also found that there’s a growing concern that ‘proximity bias’ could lead to inequalities between remote and in-office employees – and could entrench deeper structural inequalities in the workplace.
Proximity bias is an accidental favouritism, which is an evolutionary part of the cognitive decision-making process used as a mental shortcut to prioritise what feels safest.
It shows that women and parents are spending the least amount of time in the office, meaning that leaders need to act quickly to guard against inequality.
Eighty-four percent of men work in the office all or some of the time, compared to 79 percent of women. And 75 percent of parents work remotely or hybrid, compared to 64 percent of people without children.
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